School board releases data on parent's views about school closings

Newsflash 100By Pepper Parr

December 13, 2016



Somebody changed their mind – and that is healthy.  The school board has released the data gathered at the public meeting last Thursday.

The Gazette attended the first really public meeting of the PARC Program Accommodation Review Committee that was created to provide comment on the Boards decision to close two of the city’s high schools.

Lester B. Pearson and Central high school were marked for closure because the city had more than 1800 seats that were not occupied.

The meeting was boisterous but serious questions were asked and the audience of more than 350 dutifully clicked the devices they were given to record the answers.

Given the number of parents from Central, 58.6%  of those who voted on the questions asked, the data is going to be somewhat skewed but a close read of all the data suggests that parents from the other high schools could feel much the same way.

Bateman sign smallerWith 2 votes from Robinson; 7 from Aldershot and 5 from Bateman- it is difficult to get a sense as to what they think or feel.

That they don’t feel they are at risk and that the problem doesn’t impact them is not the smartest position to take.

All the data is now publicly available and parents can begin to do their own analysis.

The Gazette wants to thank the school board for making the data available.

It can be found at LINK.

Related articles:
Why the board didn’t want to release the data.


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High school parents will not get to see the data collected at a public meeting for more than a month.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

December 13th, 2106



That data; captured at a public meeting with more than 350 people in the room.

You are not going to be allowed to see it – with the exception that the Gazette captured most of the data and has made it public.


Scott Podrebarac, Chair of the PARC.

Scott Podrebarac, Chair of the PARC and a Superintendent with the Halton District Public School Board has said that he has “not yet reviewed the raw response data from IPSOS and that he “will not release the information until it is presented as a formal report to the PARC members in advance of the first working meeting on January 26th.”

Ipsos is the company the Board of Education hired to “facilitate” the meetings. They are doing a lot more than facilitating – they are gathering the data, they are probably heavily involved in the phrasing of the questions, and they will in all probability do the analysis of the answers they got to the questions they wrote and present that analysis to the PARC which is expected to meet January 26th.

There is something fundamentally wrong with the approach the Chair of the PARC has taken.

In the meantime, the parents who are at risk of losing their high school, are left high and dry as the saying goes – unable to do their own analysis of the answers that were given at the December 8th meeting

It is evident now that the data is heavily skewed to what the Central high school students think because they were by far the largest group in the room.

Podrebarac adds that “I do not want our PARC members getting information from the media before they receive it.”


These people answered 25 questions at a public meeting. The answers they gave were flashed up on a large screen – made public. But the Board of Education does not want to release this raw data until it gets presented to a committee. The parents need that data to prepare their arguments that will go to the same committee.

The Gazette wonders which part of “public” Podrebarac is having a problem with?

In his response to our asking for the raw data to ensure that what we have published is correct Podrebarac said: “we will prepare and present this to them and post the full report as soon as it has been prepared. This is the process that was shared and agreed to with the PARC members.”

Podrebarac said he is “happy to make myself available throughout the process, so please do not hesitate to call me on my cell or in the office. He means well.

The school board has created the PARC as the body that will be the “official” body that is used to communicate with the public – PARC.

The Board has contracted with Ipsos to handle the “facilitation” of the meetings. The lead person from Ipsos, Kirk Perris, holds a doctorate as well as the title Director of Consultations, Canada

On can deduce that Perris will be doing the analysis of the data and presenting that analysis to the PARC at the end of January.


Central high school parents are going to have to be more than strong – they are going to have to fight to keep their school open with one hand tied behind their back.

Meanwhile the parents who stand a better than even chance of losing their high school have to sit and stew for more than a month.

The is (a) unfair, (b) not in the interests of the public

There isn’t a reason in the world for withholding the raw data that was gathered at a public meeting.

Several hundred parents who do not want to see their neighbourhood high school closed and who are out fundraising and preparing their arguments for the PARC and for the trustees, now have to wait until close to the end of January before they can review the data and come to their own conclusions as to what was the data really says. The kind of information gathered has to be analyzed and filtered – and this takes time.

The parents do have representation on the PARC – they appointed one of the two people on the PARC to represent them. The school board has created email addresses for the members of the PARC. A single email address is used to reach both people representing our school.

The addresses are shown below. Urge the members of the PARC to direct the chair of the committee to release the raw data now.


Email addresses for the members of the PARC representing the high schools in the city.

Director of Education Stuart Miller has said that the recommendation staff made to close Pearson and Central high schools was the starting point of a lengthy process.

Hammil + Miller

Director of Education Stuart Miller gets out to dozens of events where students are involved. The same cannot be aid for several of his predecessors.

He said that parents may well come up with ideas that will result in a solution that keeps everyone happy. And the Gazette believes Miller is sincere – what he does not appear to appreciate is that the parents who stand to lose a core part of their community are left to work with data that is incomplete and may have errors with at least one hand tied behind their back.

Miller was on-hand to greet people before the December 8th meeting started but said that he had been advised not to stay.  Miller needs to get better advisers.

Informed people can make informed decisions. In a world of almost instant communication data is king. Let the public have what their taxes  paid for.

Director Miller has a number of options. He can release the raw data to the public and the members of the PARC and then send Chair Podrebarac back to the civics class he seems to have missed.

The data the Gazette did manage to capture and report on

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Joe Dogs is going to let Central high school parents gas up

Event 100By Staff

December 13th, 2106



If you live in the downtown core.

And if you are at all concerned about what happens to Burlington’s Central high school – scoot on to Joe Dogs Gas Bar and take part in some fine entertainment and a Silent auction.

Marianne Meed Ward, the council member for ward 2 and a member of the Program Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) that will be giving the Director of Education some advice will probably not make the event – she will be stuck in council chamber listening to the 27 people expected to delegate at city hall.

She could make it for the last round.


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27 delegations scheduled for the last Standing Committee of the year.

News 100 redBy Staff

December 13th, 2016



It’s the last Development and Infrastructure Committee Meeting of the year and it is going to be a whopper.

There are a reported 27 delegations registered to speak on three of the items on the agenda – which at 10 minutes each could amount to as much as four and a half hours of council members having to listen to the people who elected them.

They deserve it.

The committee meets at 1 pm and runs, usually until 4 pm – but they have gone over that in the past.
The evening session begins at 6:30 pm – can last until 10 pm with an additional half hour if council agrees, they usually do.


Mayor Rick Golding serving as chair of a city council meeting.

This council doesn’t do very well when it has to listen to delegations; the Mayor tends to get very short – this kind of thing is just outside his comfort zone.

Here is what our champions of the democratic process are looking at for a work load Tuesday.

Declarations of Interest:

Election of Chair and Vice Chair:

Statutory Public Meetings:
Statutory public meetings are held to present planning applications in a public forum as required by the Planning Act

Proposed Zoning By-law amendment for 514 Pearl Street

Character studies and low density residential areas
Note: This item will be discussed at 6:30 p.m.


Consent Items:  Reports of a routine nature, which are not expected to require discussion and/or debate. Staff may not be in attendance to respond to queries on items contained in the Consent Agenda.

Sweden Denmark update report

Burlington response to provincial consultation on Ontario Municipal Board reform

Regular Items:
Joseph Brant Museum transformation project – 50% detailed design costing

Asset management policy and plan update

State of the downtown report 2016

Proposed Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendment for 4853 Thomas Alton Boulevard

Note: This item will be discussed at 6:30 p.m.

Section 37 community benefits for 4853 Thomas Alton Boulevard, ADI Developments Inc.

Note: This item will be discussed at 6:30 p.m.

Confidential Items:  Confidential reports may require a closed meeting in accordance with the Municipal Act, 2001. Meeting attendees may be required to leave during the discussion.

Procedural Motions:

Information Items:

Staff Remarks:

Committee Remarks:


Burlington City Council Group

Burlington’s city council – they may well be a bleary eyed bunch by the end of the day.

They all go home and come back in a week to sit as a city council and put a rubber stamp on the most of what got discussed at length during the Standing Committee meeting.

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Tom Muir has some advice for parents with children at Burlington high schools - don’t go quietly.

opinionandcommentBy Pepper Parr

December 12, 2016



Tom Muir has been delegating to city council for more than 25 years.

He is a solid thorn in the side of his council member who doesn’t send Muir a Christmas card, Muir doesn’t lose any sleep over this.


Will this high school close – and if it does what will it do to the life of the downtown core.

He has been watching the Board of Education plan to possibly close two Burlington high schools and he has some advice for the parents. The following is an unedited comment Tom Muir made earlier today.

From my experience, parents just have to become completely self-aware, so they find out for themselves what is really going on.

Don’t expect the Board to tell you what you want to know. This is really politics, and the key in politics is to control the narrative.

That’s what the Board is doing very well. They have the whole process structured and orchestrated.
They act interested, but they are defending the closures recommendation that they made right off the bat. That is their real interest. Don’t be fooled.

Of course you are being manipulated. Your key questions are being avoided, and right in front of your face. So what does this tell you?

They are trying to get you to fill in the blanks of some of their key questions. Your were “facilitated” – another political tool.

They are doing their own brand of efficiency, and I don’t think parents are being told the half of it. Parents are doing heart. Get that through your head.

If parents don’t let their outrage loose, and in mass numbers demand answers to their key questions, on a schedule parents set, to the Board, and the Trustees, and your Councillor and Mayor, and right now, immediately, then the trip down the garden path will continue.

Parents have to self-organize and go to war for what they want. Sheep are for slaughter. They are the big bad wolf.

If parents don’t do this, then give up, because they will just put you down slowly, on their schedule, with their information driving the bus your kids are on.

Don’t kid yourself, and don’t go quietly.

Take the advice of a citizen who has been down this path more often than he cares to admit.  He recently chastised council for their attempt to limit the length of time a citizen could delegate at a Standing Committee.

Tom Muir explaining to city council what their job is:

Tom Muir made, as he inevitably does, points worth remembering.

Muir making a point

Citizen Tom Muir

“I would hope that Council votes in favor of the 10 minutes unanimously, as a show of good faith. I will say that a vote to reduce to 5 minutes is something I see as an insult to citizens and their possible contribution to what we do as a city – our city.”

“Further, if Councillors still want to vote down the 10 minutes, I say this. If you are so tired of and frustrated by, listening to the views of the people that elected you, then maybe you have been doing this job too long and should quit. I mean that, and will not forget how this vote goes tonight. “

“This Council is not your Council; it is the people’s Council.

“And these Council Chambers are not your Chambers, but are equally, the people’s Chambers. All the Councillors and Councils hold these offices and chambers in trust.

“So to vote to reduce the people’s time to speak in these chambers is to fail in that trust, in my opinion.

I ask therefore; herein fail not.”

The vote went 6-1 with Councillor Craven voting against ten minutes for Standing Committee delegations.

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Alton residents to delegate before city council against a proposed two 19 storey development in their community.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

December 12th, 2016



The people in the Alton community are having a problem with a project that is proposed for their community – they aren’t opposed to development – but they don’t like the size of what the ADI Development g Group wants to build on Thomas Alton Way bounded by Palladium Way and Appleby Line.


Proposed design for stacked townhouses in the Alton Village

The developer has asked the city to let them build two 19 storey apartment buildings on land that is zoned for up to ten storey buildings. They want to add traditional townhouses, and stacked townhouses for a total of 612 units.

The size of the units is relatively small, suggesting, according to the community, that the market for these units is the singles 20-30 crowd and the 60+ crowd. Developers do their market research and usually understand where they will be directing their advertising.

The ward council member Blair Lancaster has said she is not going to support the project but does point out to the community that if Council turns the project down – there is every chance that the developer will take the project to the Ontario Municipal Board where the city apparently feels it doesn’t have all that much leverage.

The Planning department report recommends that Council approve the project.

Tough to have a project go to the OMB when the planners think it should be approved.

The two school boards have said in their reports that they have no objection to the project.


The proposal set out as of September 2016 will have 21 traditional townhouses, 150 stacked townhouses and 441 apartments along with the two 19 storey apartment towers joined by a six story podium.

The project has gone through a number of design changes.

In a city that is having serious problems accepting the idea that Burlington has to come to terms with the fact that a way has to be found to have fewer cars on the road, theCity staff are prepared to accept a reduced parking rate of 1.26 spaces per unit. Staff can support a parking reduction from 1,059 spaces to 759 spaces, a reduction of 300 spaces (equivalent to a 28% reduction from the current Zoning By-law requirement).

Support for a reduced parking requirement of 759 spaces is dependent upon the applicant providing no less than 2 carshare vehicles on-site, dedicated carshare parking, and continued unbundling of parking costs from unit prices.

adi-in-alton-unit-changesAs currently proposed, a parking deficiency of 14 spaces is anticipated. This is acceptable to Transportation Services staff. In this regard, the draft amending by-law provides for a minimum parking rate of 1.24 spaces per unit.

No mention is made of any road diets for the Alton Village.

The developer has talked nice about a Section 37 arrangement that has the developer turning over real dollars for community related improvements.

In a separate report going to the Standing Committee on Development and Infrastructure the following details were published:

Staff and the owners have agreed to the following direct and indirect community benefits:

• The applicant agrees to construct and the future condominium corporation will maintain a surface outdoor amenity space on the subject lands. These open space lands will be developed to a high standard and public access will be assured by way of an easement to be registered on title of the lands allowing public access to and use of this park space. This amenity space will be subject to a Landscape Plan and lighting review at the site plan approval stage. This indirect community benefit has been assessed at a value of $519,800.00.

• The applicant agrees to provide 20 residential dwelling units at a cost of $35,000 below market rate (approximately $262,000.00) to a housing provider (such as but not limited to Region of Halton Housing, Habitat for Humanity, etc.) for the purposes of delivering affordable housing on a long term basis. This indirect community benefit has been assessed at a value of $700,000.00.

• The applicant agrees to provide a direct community benefit valued at $60,000.00 towards improvements at Doug Wright park, located in close proximity to the subject lands. It is anticipated that these funds will be spent on the creation of a community garden. The City agrees to erect signage acknowledging financial contributions were made by ADI Developments Inc. by the community garden facility.

Is the goose cocked on this one? This city council doesn’t like OMB hearings – with some justification. Elsewhere in today’s paper there is an article on the changes the city and the Region would like to see made to the legislation that sets out the role and purpose of the Ontario Municipal Board. But any changes to the OMB are many months away.

The Alton community has planned strong delegations to the Standing Committee Tuesday evening.

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Parks and Recreation wants public input before it sends it final report to city council - have your say on-line.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

December 12, 2016



The City of Burlington is asking residents to share their input on a proposed event strategy for the city through an online survey. A link to that survey is at the end of this article.

Last March, hundreds of residents and event organizers shared their ideas and feedback with the Parks and Recreation department through stakeholder meetings and an online survey, about how to shape a future approach to festivals and events in Burlington, They fashioned an early sage strategy and now want feedback from the public to learn if the proposed strategy reflects their thoughts and ideas.

Current experience poster

The meeting facilitator used a much different approach to recording the data gathered.

The proposed strategy touches on many aspects of the delivery of festivals and events in the community, including:

• The types of events held in the city
• The location of events in the city
• Funding for events.

The proposed event strategy will be presented to Burlington City Council in early 2017.

The city’s 25 year Strategic Plan supports festivals and events of all sizes and annually hosts three Top 100 Festivals and Events in Ontario. Burlington directly delivers a small number of events with the majority of events being delivered by the community for the community. Festival and event organizers are supported by the city as they enrich our community, create a sense of belonging and support our strategic goals of A City that Grows, A City that Moves, A Healthy and Greener City and An Engaging City.

A number of factors including the city’s natural beauty make Burlington a desirable location to host events. All stakeholders in the city have an expectation that the city’s assets and resources are used responsibly and reflect the best interests for the greater good. A number of trends have highlighted the importance of having an event strategy including:

Interest in a variety of events
Increased attendance at events
Concerns with profit events on public land
Safety and legislative requirements for event organizers
Community consultation for new events
Concerns with events in Burlington requiring admission fees

There is a historical approach applied to the acceptance of events hosted within Spencer Smith Park; is it time or that to change. Spencer Smith Park and some downtown roads have reached capacity and there is now a desire for a balanced approached to potentially expand events to other areas in our city.


The decision to turn the Beachway into a very different Regional Park that will be managed by the city will impact what Parks and Recreation decides how it is going to manage its budget. The planned park is massive in size.

Assuming all the planning being done to create a totally different Beachway the city will have a lot more space to locate events. It will be sometime before the public sees anything really new – but the plans to gut what currently exists in the Beachway and turn it into something significantly different are in place.

Coming up with a longer term plan and then a strategy to put that plan work is something Parks and Recreation has been working on for some time.

Event Strat table group - Sean Kenney

Despite a pretty decent turn out the participants in the workshop type setting didn’t come up with very much in the way of ideas.

The event held in March showed a lot of initiative and innovation on the part of the Parks and Recreation staff – but they got very little from the audience they had invited to take part.

The “legacy stake holders” were in the room to ensure that the way things were working for them didn’t get changed – when it was change that the city wanted.

Ribfest has been in Spencer Smith Park for more than 20 years – there are people at city hall think that might be due for a change. Ribfest is a Rotary event and one doesn’t advance a career at city hall going against the Rotary flow – Burlington has four different Rotary organizations in this city.

Sound of Music has been around for a long time – it is one of the best festivals in the province and consistently takes awards – which are usually handed out by the organizations that run awards across the province – a little on the self-serving side.

However, it is a stunning event and draws very well. Parks and recreation wants to know if it can be better.

They also want to see what they can do to organize events that are not in Spencer Smith Park. So far they haven’t come up with much in the way of new ideas and that meeting in March didn’t add anything useful.

Beard studious

Denise Beard, one of the managers within Parks and Recreation is one of the best thinkers in the department. She organized the event.

Parks and Recreation does have a challenge – the survey is one of the ways they are looking for reaction from the public on some ideas they are developing.

What doesn’t appear to have occurred to Parks and Recreation is looking for ways to partner with community groups that are developing a market for events.

The Lowville Festival – heading into its third year has shown that there is a market for what they have developed – now they need some facilities support and some early stage financial support – just the way the Sound of Music did when it started as a city run event.

Link to the survey

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This wasn't what they were expecting - PC party denies the McKenna nomination appeal. She is the candidate.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

December 12, 2016



This isn’t what they expected.

The evidence was pretty compelling but the Progressive Conservative Party Organization and Election Readiness committee decided there “were no violations of the Party Constitution nor the rules established by the Provincial Nominations Committee” The decision was unanimous.

They sent Colin Pye, the party member who filed the appeal,  a letter immediately after. Here was the news he received.

Dear Mr. Pye;
First off, on behalf of the three members of the Appeal Panel, I’d like to thank you, again, for taking the time, earlier this evening, to participate in our deliberations on the concerns you and your associates have raised regarding the recent Burlington nomination meeting.

The Panel re-assembled, after your input, and gave its final consideration of the issues you have raised. After considerable discussion, the Panel has unanimously agreed that there were no violations of the Party Constitution nor the rules established by the Provincial Nominations Committee nor were there any deviations from the standard practices, at the event, that have been followed for all nomination meetings.

Accordingly, the Panel must dismiss the complaint, in its entirety, and uphold the election of Jane McKenna as the nominated candidate for our Party for the 2018 General Election. We will send you a more detailed response, and a rebuttal for each of the issues you raised, early next week, but we wanted to give you, your associates, the riding association and Ms McKenna the benefit of a decision at the earliest possible opportunity.

Again, thank you for your participation in this process and for your support of the Burlington riding association.

Sincerely, Steve Gilchrist, Director, Organization and Election Readiness

This means Jane McKenna can begin campaigning. She has scheduled a fundraiser at Honey West.

Related article:
The request for an appeal of the Kane McKenna nomination.

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High school parents aren't impressed with the first of the public meetings the Board of Education held.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

December 11, 2016



There are a lot of parents who do not like the look and feel of what appears to be coming from their Board of Education.  A public meeting held Thursday evening turned out to be an occasion to gather data and learn just what the parents would put up with; what they would give up and what they were not prepared to move on.

Lynn Crosby, a Central high school parents wondered “ if the purpose of the meeting was to actually gather public input, it pretty much failed big-time.

“If the purpose was simply for the board to be able to check off a box that they satisfied Ministry or Board guidelines to hold a public session to say they gathered public input, I suppose they accomplished their mission.

“The meeting occurred, but that’s about it.”


Lynn Crosby – Central high school parent.

She went on to say: “We thought since it was billed as a chance for us to answer their questions and ask our own questions that

(a) the questions we were answering would be non-biased and easy to understand. They were neither; and

(b) that our own questions for them would be answered, not simply asked and then left to float off into the air.

“I don’t see how they will be able to use the data to prove anything, since many schools were barely represented according to the attendance figures from each school, and since it was clearly publicly aired over the course of the entire evening that people were confused by the questions, found them biased, and felt they were not being heard at all with their own questions.

“The fact that many Superintendents and senior staff and the Director all fled the meeting instead of offering to answer those questions, certainly did not go over well.”

“Next steps for us is to carry on trying to show the PAR Committee, the Board and the Trustees why closing Central is not the right option and coming up with options and ideas that make more sense.
“This meeting didn’t change that one way or the other, nor did I expect it to.|”

Dania Thurman, another Central parent said “ we have been led to believe that our opinion is wanted and needed in this process.


Dania Thurman, on the left – Central high school parent

“We were led to believe that Thursday night was going to be the first opportunity for us to be heard and to provide important feedback. We were wrong. It speaks volumes when you have teenage students pointing out the obvious bias and narrow focus in the Boards survey questions.

“It also speaks volumes when our Director of Education and his fellow superintendents sneak out with their tail between their legs mid-meeting to avoid having to actually answer questions and face criticism.

“That survey was designed for one purpose only and that was to leave the community with no alternative but to answer in a way that would support the Boards current recommendation. Once that purpose was undeniably obvious the entire survey went south, leaving one thought in my mind – ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.

“The HDSB needs to realize that the public is not full of uneducated, naive individuals that will follow like sheep wherever the Board feels they want to lead us.”

Prior to the meeting starting Director of Education Stuart Miller did say he had been advised by his Staff not to stay for the full meeting.



Central high parents will take part in a fun night and a fund raising event Tuesday of this week.

Rory Nisan, one of the co-chairs of the SaveLBPHS campaign. He graduated from Lester B. Pearson in 2001 where he found the smaller school to be an enriching experience. ”I was able to play rugby, which wasn’t offered at MM Robinson. I was inspired by the Pearson name to learn more about Canada’s role in the world. I eventually began an international career and have both Pearson the name, and the social studies programme to thank for this.

“I know that small schools can provide a great environment for learning and the development of youth.
Nisan feels LBP should be given sufficient feeder schools to ensure that there are 600 students. MM Robinson should be given the same treatment. The overall OTG capacity at the three North Burlington schools is 83%.


The close to 400 parents expected to be able to ask questions – and hopefully get answers – things didn’t quite work out that way.

This is more than sufficient to allow all three schools to be sustainable and excellent learning environments for the students. The number will rise as more families move into North Burlington.

The December 8th meeting was the first time there was interaction between the parents and people representing the school board.

There were few senior board people at the front of the room – which was deliberate. The facilitator hired by the board was there at this point to gather information.


Three of the four Burlington school board trustees listen intently – they are the final decision makers.

Many of the school board trustees attended the meeting and they stayed to the end.

One parent wrote that his take on the gathering of the data was “likely to test participants’ reactions and it appears that the audience understood very well that they were being manipulated.”

Peter Menet who earlier had said he felt the audience had been misled, wanted to know why key questions were being asked and the audience was being told that there was no one present to answer them when Associate Director Boag and Planning Manager Renzella were in the auditorium and could have answered questions.

The “process” hasn’t gotten off to that good a start.getting new - yellow

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Snow plows, salters and sidewalk cleaners - all on standby.

notices100x100By Staff

December 11, 2016



The City of Burlington is ready for this afternoon/evening’s predicted snowfall of from 10 to 15 centimetres.
Crews and plow trucks are out on the roads today and have begun salting.

The city monitors road conditions 24 hours a day, seven days a week, salting, sanding and plowing as needed.

Please drive safely.

If you want to learn where the snow plows have been check the link


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Are the parents of high school students having a number done on them? And if that is the case - what are they going to do about it?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

December 11th, 2016



There was a line in the Saturday Globe & Mail editorial that might resonate with the several hundred people who took part in the first public meeting of the Program Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) at the Gary Alan School on New Street Thursday evening.

The editorial was about the seriously flawed on-line survey being conducted to learn what Canadians have to say about how we elect our leaders.

Much of the editorial was “tongue in cheek” but the following paragraph comes pretty close to reflecting what many people felt when they left the school Thursday evening.

“As you answer the questions, remember that there are no wrong answers, because we don’t care what you say. This is a different way of consulting Canadians – in the sense that we’re not actually consulting anyone. We are just collecting data on our imposed preferences and sorting it by your demographic profile for unclear purposes. Thank you for participating.”

For those at the Thursday evening meeting we expect many to cringe after reading the paragraph.


PARC Chair Scott Podabarac – a Superintendent with the Halton District school Board

Data was collected – the Gazette provided the questions asked and an early cut of the audience responses. The data we provided has to be verified – it wasn’t possible to get it all down – the data on the screens was moving pretty quickly and one of the women sitting in the row behind me seemed to need to chatter incessantly.

All the data needs to be analyzed by the parents who really care about how many schools will be kept open and if schools are closed – which will it be?

The Board of Education may not be able to do better than this – but this is in the hands of the citizens. They are the steel in the spine of the PARC and they can ensure that the report written reflects their views. They can hold Chair of the PARC, Superintendent Scott Podabarc’s feet to the flames – he is there to serve them.

The PARC could also choose to summon Domenico Renzella, Manager of Planning, Halton District School Board and put questions to him and demand all the data they need.


Director of Education Stuart Miller and Manager of Planning Domenico Renzella during an on-line Q&A

Several parents have come up with boundary change scenarios that they think will solve at least some of the empty seat problems.

PARC policy is that:

The PARC is an Advisory body; it acts as the official conduit for information shared between Trustees and school communities. It provides feedback on options considered in Director’s Preliminary Report. It can seek clarification on Director’s Preliminary Report and provide new accommodation options and supporting rationale

The Board of Trustees is responsible for deciding the most appropriate pupil accommodation arrangements for the delivery of its elementary and secondary programs. Decisions that are made by the Board of Trustees are in the context of carrying out its primary responsibilities of fostering student achievement and well-being, and ensuring effective stewardship of school board resources. The Board of Trustees may consider undertaking pupil accommodation reviews that may lead to school consolidations and closures in order to address declining and shifting student enrolment.

The final decision regarding the future of a school or a group of schools rests solely with the Board of Trustees.

There are a couple of ways to interpret that statement. There is an opportunity for the members of the PARC to be aggressively proactive and take the lead on this and not sit there like stooges while the board runs circles around them.

The PARC might even consider having some original research done and require the board to fund it. There is nothing in the rules that says the PARC cannot call witnesses and ask questions.  For any of this to happen to parents have to stand up on their hind legs and demand what is rightfully theirs.

They also need to keep their trustees fully briefed on what is happening and lobby like crazy.

The trustees were elected to make decisions on or your behalf and we would like to believe that those decisions are being made in your best interests as well.

It might get a little messy – but it can’t get any worse than it is right now.

The senior staff at the board are intelligent people and they have the capacity to adapt to changing situations – the parents can determine that this is a changing situation and expect their board to adapt. The phrase innovation and imagination was tossed around several times – bring that to ground and be imaginative and innovative to solve this perplexing problem.


Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring

The disconcerting part in this situation is the way the city has decided to steer clear of what they feel is a little too political for them. The parents at Central understood fully the need for a political element and placed Marianne Meed Ward, their ward Councillor on the PARC – she does have a son who attends the school – so she is legit.

Mayor Goldring chose not to take part and instead sent James Ridge, his city manager, who is new to Burlington and probably hasn’t been anywhere near one of the high schools. He does not have the legitimacy Meed Ward has on this file.  He was not at the first public meeting – it was his birthday. Happy Birthday James.

The data

The Mayor’s choice

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The good ship Burlington Tory Blue is leaking like a sieve - not a word from McKenna the former MPP who won the nomination by 41 votes

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

December 10th, 2016



More on that Progressive Conservative nomination scandal

“Despite the party announcing on October 3rd the nomination meeting in Burlington would be before Dec 31st, they tweeted out on Oct 17th that McKenna would be acclaimed.

“Despite multiple attempts for an interview, the party did not agree to interview Jane Michael until Nov 22nd (4 days before the scheduled nomination meeting), and didn’t actually approve her until Nov 25th at 6pm- 16 hours before voting started. She sold 900 memberships which meant she only had 16 hours (including sleeping hours) to call all her members.

Cam Jackson: Election night 2010

Would this nomination scandal have taken place on Cam Jackson’s watch?

Jane McKenna did not need to have an interview, she was a former MPP. Many of Jane Michael’s supporters called her complaining they received a call from Jane McKenna indicating that she received access to the membership list after November 11 (the membership sales cut-off date for the nomination). Michael’s did not receive a copy of the membership list.

We learn that before the nomination election was called the Burlington Progressive Conservative Association has just 200 members on its list but that they have very close to $20,000 in the bank.

For an association that once owned the Burlington constituency there doesn’t appear to be much in the way of a local organization. Nothing lean or healthy about it.

The request that the nomination race be re-done is embarrassing and leaves mud on the shoes of the organization no matter what the party decision.


Patrick Brown will be working the telephones next week – got a mess to clean up in Burlington.

It is going to take some time to clean up that mess, fortunately or the Tory’s the Liberal government has got its hands full with some sticky issues. Time for the Blues to quietly re-build and then bring Patrick Brown into town and showcase the man.

But clean up the mess first.  The video that came out of the nomination meeting was all too telling.  It came from a card carrying member of the association – there are people who want to clean it up.

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Public answers 25 questions put to them at a public meeting - many that took part didn't expect this approach and they had no input on the creation of the questions.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

December 10th, 2016


The data set out below is now correct.

It was the first public meeting of the Program and Accommodation Review Committee (PARC).  There was an audience of about 300 people.

The audience was told that the meeting was to gather the perceptions of the people attending.  This was going to be done by an interactive process that would put questions up on a large screen.  People in the audience would use hand held devices to click a number indicating their answer.


There were not many empty seats – and there were few satisfied parents.

The first question was – who are you and where are you from – phrased a little differently – here is what went up on the screen – the results are shown in BOLD RED

Question 1: Which high school are your representing tonight?  The number beside the school was the number people in the audience would key in.  The screen displayed a number that indicated how many devices had been handed out and another number showing how many people had responded.

7. Aldershot    7

6. Dr. Frank J. Hayden   43
5. Lester B. Pearson     43
4. Nelson Public           6
3. Robert Bateman       5
2. Burlington Central     150
1. M.M. Robinson     2

It was clear from the start that the auditorium was filled with Central high school people.

They were asked 25 questions that were broken out into four different themes..

Programming and enrollment
Physical state of existing schools
Geographical and transportation issues
Fiscal responsibility and future planning

There was some discussion after each theme was covered off. The Ipsos facilitator made a strategic error in cutting off discussion in order to keep the meeting within the two hour time frame he had. He did loosen up later but by that time he had lost the confidence of the audience.

Ipsos was serving as a third-party gatherer of information. Both the facilitator and the meeting chair Scott Poderabac, a HDSB Superintendent, pointed out again and again that they were in the early stage of discussion and information gathering and that there were multiple ways to provide feedback:

The audience was told that a final decision on a school closing lies with Board of Trustees and that the PARC served as the official conduit for information shared between Trustees and school communities.  It also provides feedback on options considered in Director’s Preliminary Report (option 19)

Board staff would be compiling the feedback from PARC and broader community to make up Community Consultation section of final staff report to Trustees.  There would be a minimum of four working meetings of the PARC and PARC members will solicit input from the communities they represent.
The audience was told that the work being done is rooted in the 13 PARC Framework factors:

• Range of mandatory and optional programs
• Viability of Program – number of students required to offer and maintain program in an educationally sound and fiscally responsible way; Continuity of placement and possible relocation of regional programs within the review area
• Physical and environmental state of existing schools
• Proximity to other schools (non-bus distances, natural boundaries, walking routes)
• Accommodation of students in permanent school facilities and minimal use of portable classrooms
• Balance of overall enrollment in each school in the area to maximize student access to programs, resources, and extra-curricular opportunities and avoid over and underutilization of buildings
• Expansion and placement of new ministry or board programs
• Stable, long-term boundaries to avoid frequent boundary changes
• Cost effectiveness of transportation
• Fiscal responsibilities
• Existing and potential community use and facility partnerships
• Goals and focus of the current multi-year plan

There was very little explanation on these 13 factors and there didn’t seem to be much in the way of opportunity to revise them.

The option that had been determined by Stuart Miller, Director of Education was what has been named Option 19 which was:

Lester B. Pearson HS closes
Burlington Central HS closes
Remove French Immersion Program from Dr. Frank J. Hayden SS
and redirect to M.M. Robinson HS
Add French Immersion program to Robert Bateman HS, expand catchment for Robert Bateman HS and alter French Immersion catchment for Nelson HS

The meeting then moved into the first theme 1: Programming and Enrollment

Qx 2: How important is the availability of mandatory / core courses for your child(ren) within your home school?

3. Very Important              187
3. Somewhat Important      58
2. Not Very Important           12
1. Not at all Important          3

Qx 3: How acceptable is it to attend a school outside of a home school for mandatory / core programming for your child(ren)?

4. Very Acceptable   22
3. Somewhat Acceptable   42
2. Not Very Acceptable   64
1. Not at all Acceptable   135

Qx 4: How important is the availability of optional / elective courses within your home school for your child(ren)?

4. Very Important     94
3. Somewhat Important      117
2. Not Very Important         38
1. Not at all Important       14

Qx 5: How acceptable is it for your child(ren) to attend a school outside of a home school for optional/elective courses?

4. Very Acceptable             37
3. Somewhat Acceptable    92
2. Not Very Acceptable       70
1. Not at all Acceptable     62

Qx 6: How willing are you to have your child(ren) take a mandatory/core course in an alternative method (e.g., summer school, night school, e-learning or attend another school?

4. Very Willing  55
3. Somewhat Willing  54
2. Not Very Willing  57
1. Not at all Willing  96

Qx 7: How willing are you to have your child(ren) take a optional/elective course in an alternative method (e.g., summer school, night school, e-learning or attend another school?

4. Very Willing  90
3. Somewhat Willing  74
2. Not Very Willing  46
1. Not at all Willing  49

Qx 8: How important is it for you high school to offer a full range of pathway programming (e.g., workplace, college, university)?

4. Very Important   120
3. Somewhat Important   89
2. Not Very Important  33
1. Not at all Important   15

Qx 9: How concerned are you that your child(ren) has access to appropriate learning facilities (e.g., kitchens, science labs, gyms, libraries)?

4. Very Concerned  165
3. Somewhat Concerned   58
2. Not Very Concerned  16
1. Not at all Concerned  19

Qx 10: How concerned are you that some high schools have large amounts of specialized learning spaces that remain underutilized?

4. Very Concerned  18
3. Somewhat Concerned   56
2. Not Very Concerned  92
1. Not at all Concerned  92

Qx 11: How important is it for your home school to have a full range of extracurricular activities (e.g., drama, arts, athletics, clubs) for your child(ren)?

4. Very Important   121
3. Somewhat Important  92
2. Not Very Important  35
1. Not at all Important   13

Qx 12: How likely are you to support your child(ren) participating in extracurricular activities at another school?

4. Very Likely  72
3. Somewhat Likely  69
2. Not Very Likely  49
1. Not at all Likely  68

Qx 13: How important is it for your child to have access to the highest level of competition in athletics?

4. Very Important   19
3. Somewhat Important   30
2. Not Very Important   170
1. Not at all Important   141

Peter Menet wanted to know if the board was collecting the data as raw information – it was.  When another speaker commented on how bad the questions were there was an immediate burst of applause.  The audience was again told that this was an early stage of the process.

Some speakers said they felt answering the questions the way they were put was to be working against their own interests.  Others felt the questions were “sketchy” and that just about everything was weighted towards the “bigger is better” approach.

Theme 2: Physical State of Existing Schools
Qx 14: How important is the physical condition of your existing school to you (e.g., environmental sustainability, energy consumption, safety)?

4. Very Important  75
3. Somewhat Important  37
2. Not Very Important  32
1. Not at all Important  95

There was a lot of comment from the audience on the above question – they felt it was a “faulty” question.  The facilitator began to lose the trust he needed with the audience at this point.

Qx 15: How important is it to you that the board ensures schools have an up-to-date, fully-accessible learning environment (e.g., elevators, air conditioning)?

4. Very Important   56
3. Somewhat Important   38
2. Not Very Important   32
1. Not at all Important   116

Qx 16: How important is it you to preserve existing community partnerships at your child(ren)’s current school (e.g., swimming pool, library, community centre)?

4. Very Important   97
3. Somewhat Important   36
2. Not Very Important   49
1. Not at all Important   69

Qx 17: How important is it you to minimize the use of portable classrooms?

4. Very Important   159  
3. Somewhat Important   27
2. Not Very Important    27
1. Not at all Important   39


When the question off portables was on the screen one parent asked in an almost sarcastic tone Really?

Another parent said she felt the questions were insulting.  The facilitator’s tone began to change, he began to speak a little more crisply and started correcting himself.

Another parent said the board’s neglect is not a reason to close a school.

Another parent said she didn’t feel the questions were being asked in good faith.

The audience was told that the questions and the answers were material for the PARC.

Another parent told the audience that if the parents were confused can you imagine what is going on in the minds of the students.

Theme 3: Geographical and Transportation Issues

Qx 18: The Board’s current walk distance is a maximum of 3.2 km. How important is it that your child(ren) are within the Board mandated walking distance to reach school?

4. Very Important     198
3. Somewhat Important   22
2. Not Very Important     21
1. Not at all Important    12

Qx 19: Which of the following is your child(ren)’s most common form of travel to school currently? (list methods)

6. School Bus  37
5. Car (drive or drop off)  32
4. Public Transit  0
3. Walk  176
2. Bike   17
1. Other   4

Qx 20: How important is it to you that the Board be fiscally responsible by reducing transportation to reach school?

4. Very Important   151
3. Somewhat Important   44
2. Not Very Important      22
1. Not at all Important    30

Qx 21: How important is it for your child(ren) to spend their secondary school years in one school community?

4. Very Important   238
3. Somewhat Important  14
2. Not Very Important   6
1. Not at all Important   0

•Proximity to other schools (i.e., non-bus distances, natural boundaries, walking routes)
•Cost effectiveness of transportation
•Stable, long-term boundaries to avoid frequent changes

Theme 4: Fiscal Responsibility and Future Planning
Qx 22: The Ministry does not fund empty pupil places. To what extent do you agree that the Board should reallocate its limited budget to fund these spaces?

4. Strongly Agree   122
3. Somewhat Agree   50
2. Somewhat Disagree  32
1. Strongly Disagree   28

The facilitator described this as the opportunity to do some problem solving – here are a lot of empty seats that the board will not get funding for – where will the money come from.

The audience was asked what they would be prepared to give up.  One parent said she didn’t understand what the PARC can do – she didn’t get an asnwer.

Parents asked why they weren’t being told about how the board was cutting back on its spending if the students to fill those empty seats didn’t exist.

The sense was that the Board was looking to the parents to come up with innovative approaches to the problem.  These parents are not at that point yet – and they may not get to that point.

Parents wanted to see the facilities their tax dollars pay for are optimized.  They care about their community and want their children to be able to all attend the same school.

Central is the only school in the system that has students attending from JK through to graduation – and this is something these parents do not want to give up.

Qx 23: The Board’s MYP states it will maintain a minimum overall average of 90% building capacity. To what extent to do you agree with this goal around future sustainability of Burlington secondary schools?

4. Strongly Agree   20
3. Somewhat Agree  34
2. Somewhat Disagree   53
1. Strongly Disagree   134

Qx 24: The goal in the current MYP is to use innovative approaches to student learning spaces (e.g., classrooms, gymnasiums). To what extent do you feel the current situation of Burlington high schools is sustainable?

4. Very Sustainable   91
3. Somewhat Sustainable   55
2. Not very Sustainable   20
1. Not at all Sustainable   25

At this point people began walking out.

Qx 25: Of the four themes, which is most important to you?

4. Programming and enrollment   0
3. Physical state of existing schools   0
2. Geographical and transportation Issues   0
1. Fiscal responsibility and future planning   0

With the data gathering part of the meeting over the facilitator opened it up for questions.  He got more than an earful.

Stuart Miller

Director of Education Stuart Miller. He did not stay for the meeting.

The audience did not like the setting out of a specific option.  There was no mention at all of the other 18 options.  That to them left the feeling that a decision had been made.  They asked if the questions had been tested.  They wanted to know if the large ESL classes were included in the school count at Central – no one could tell them and that is what bothered the parents the most.

The were very vocal in wanting answers to questions and on a number of occasions pointed out that the people who could answer the questions were in the room.  Peter Menet who earlier had said he felt the audience had been misled wanted to know why key questions were being asked and the audience was being told that there was no one present to answer them when Associate Director Boag and Planning Manager Renzella were in the auditorium and could have answered questions

Menet said he was very disappointed which was basically the mood the the audience

The Ipsos facilitator said the purpose of the meeting was not to answer questions but to get feedback.

One parent explained that if French immersion was pulled from Hayden her child might well just give up French to be able to stay at Hayden

Another parents explained that students will not take a bus to get to another school to take part in an extra curricular event.

One parent wanted to know what was going to happen to a day care that had been in Pearson for more than 35 years?

Many thought the boundary lines were seriously flawed.

This was an audience that did not fully understand that the meeting was to gather data – it was not a meeting to answer their questions.  So far the only opportunity to ask questions was an online Q&A.

The next step in the process is for the PARC to meet and determine how it is going to proceed.  Those 27+ people are not going to be quite as pliant.

In the meantime parents want to print out this report and go over their responses to the questions that were asked.  Miller, the Director of Education appears to be amendable to additional public meetings.

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Police want to fill cruisers - with gifts.

Event 100By Staff

December 9, 2016



As we enter the holiday season, our focus becomes the hustle and bustle of shopping, dinner parties and family gatherings. As joyous as this season is, there are many families in the Region of Halton who struggle to provide their children with that special gift on Christmas morning.

In 2015, the Toys for Tots program helped over 4,200 families in the Region of Halton. The police want to make the 2016 campaign just as successful.


Regional police “detective” McGruff will be at the Canadian Tire stores this Saturday

Halton Regional Police is holding two Cram-A-Cruiser events on Saturday, December 10, 2016 as part of the annual Toys for Tots toy drive.


1. Canadian Tire Store located at 5070 Appleby Line, Burlington
2. Canadian Tire Store located at 777 Guelph Line, Burlington


11:00am to 3:00pm at both locations

Police officers and volunteers will be accepting new unwrapped toys, gift cards (great for teens), cash or Canadian Tire money for the Toys for Tots program. Please bring the children to come and meet our officers, tour a police cruiser and meet McGruff! Help us fill as many cruisers as possible!

The Halton Police mascot, McGruff will be at the Appleby Line store.

All donations remain in the Region of Halton.

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Winter weather has arrived; snow plows are operational and a map tells you where they have been

News 100 blueBy Staff

December 9th, 2016


Roads and Parks Maintenance crews are ready and fully prepared for winter weather.

Burlington’s road network is patrolled 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to ensure road conditions are monitored. Crews are dispatched for salting, sanding or plowing according to road conditions.

Snow plow city hall sqThe weekend forecast is for snow accumulations of 11 to 22 cm between Sunday night and Monday morning.

Please note the city snow website is updated when plows are sent out on the roads. It is not updated if there is less than 5 cm of snow accumulation.

Further information can be found at


Link to what has been plowed so far

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Once the voting polls had closed I waited to see how the votes went.

opinionandcommentBy Sherry Booth

December 9th, 2016



With the American Election finally over, as Ontarians we are now at the beginning stages preparing for our next Provincial Election. As a newly registered member of the Progressive Conservative Party I witness 1st hand just how the process works. As the PC Party here in Burlington voted on Nov. 26th to elect who will be the next person to be our leader as the MPP for the PC Party. I was more that shocked and disappointed how this election process took place.


Defeated candidate Jane Michael.

I felt it was time for me to engage and be more evolved in supporting who I felt was the best party to help fix the mess that the Liberals have gotten us into. A retirement dream of mine one day “was” to move to the country.

The Liberals took that dream away as I will not be able to afford the Hydro Bill! Along comes Jane Michael knocking on my door…She sold me on the PC Party and what she stood for. As she said “Now is the time to take back Burlington and make it blue again” and push out the Liberals. The PC Party was the party to do that…so I signed up.

After what I watch happen that day I started to second guess my support. Is one party really any better than the next? As a newly joined member of the Progressive Conservative Party here in Burlington I am extremely disappointed in the process I saw personally at the Nomination meeting and election that was held on Nov. 26 recently.

Not only did I watch the registration desk turn away newly registered members for the PC Party…I watched them turn away a Trustee from the School Board. The Trustee realized that they had lost their Drivers Licence.

That person offered up all other ID in their wallet plus showed them their picture on the Board website. Note that all Trustees of school Boards are elected officials. On the website was the trustee name and photo confirming that they were who they said they were. I later was told by that Trustee that they had to go home and come back with a Hydro Bill before they could vote…Turns out the Trustee was a Jane Michael supporter as the trustee had on a Jane Michael pin. There were other similar stories at that point I really questioned my faith in the PC Party. Clearly the registration desk was holding up Supporters for one person.

So I decided to stay till the end and see how this all played out.

Once the voting polls had closed I waited to see how the votes went. The results were in, Rick Dykstra (PC Party President) announced who was elected as the next Leader of the Burlington Party! When the voters asked if we can have the results, we were told by Dykstra that he was not sharing the results with us. It was at that moment,

I felt I had made a huge mistake in supporting the PC Party that does not offer full disclosure.


Jane McKenna – won the nomination by 41 more cotes than Michael.

Clearly Transparency is not something that the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party of Burlington Stands for…This is not about who won and who didn’t. It is about disclosure and transparently. It is about honesty!

How can a party hold an official election to see which nominee would be voted in as the Leader and not disclose the results! If you are going to do something do it right! What a waste of my time and an insult to ever PC Party Member! I could go on with other questionable activities I have heard about…but I have only hear about the other stories, this is what watch unfold myself…PC Party if you want my support you best fix this, hold a re-vote and this time get it right!

Be up front about it and offer full disclosure because you have now set a negative tone for the PC Party moving in to the next election!

Related article:

getting new - yellow

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It was a noisy meeting with few people feeling they had been heard - and this is just the beginning of the process that will determine if Central and Pearson high schools are closed.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

December 9th, 2106



There were 263 people clicking little hand held devices that looked like a television remote – the majority of them were in the hands of people from Central high school which sort of skews the information that is now in the hands of the Program Accommodation Review Committee (PARC) that met with the public Thursday evening.

The meeting got a little raucous –partly because the parents didn’t fully appreciate what the PARC was doing.


Parents basically filled the auditorium at the Gary Alan school Thursday evening. Few went home with a nice warm fuzzy felling in the tummies.

The parents wanted answers to questions.

The Board of Education people were there to gather data that would be used by the PARC in the advice they will pass along to the Director of Education.

The parents need to listen a little more closely and the Board of Education needs to be clearer in explaining the process.

The questions put to the audience were grouped into four themes:

  • Theme 1: Programming and Enrollment
  • Theme 2: Physical state of existing schools
  • Theme 3: Geographical and transportation issues
  • Theme 4: Fiscal responsibility and future planning

The parents are emotionally rooted in this issue – the closing of Central high school will change forever the kind of community that exists in the downtown core of the city.

While Central dominated the room – and they were noisy – they want to be heard. What isn’t yet fully appreciated is that all the PARC is going to be able to do is turn in a report that Director of Education Stuart Miller will use when he writes his report to the trustees.

The people parents of Central high school students need to focus on is the trustees.


The trustees that were elected will make the decision on which, if any, high schools are closed. Three of the four Burlington trustees sat at the back of the room and listened to the discussion. From the left: Richel Papin, Leah Reynolds, Tracey Ehl Harrison (Oakville) and Andrea Grebenc

No matter what the PARC committee produces or what the Director of Education sends to the trustees – it is the trustees that are going to call the shot on this issue.

This is democracy at its very best: you elected these people.

The Gazette doesn’t yet have a copy of the presentation that was used last night – we expect to get a copy of that document later today and then sometime next week have the data that was collected.

One of the questions asked – and was rather telling, was: How did people feel about finding ways to cover the cost of those 1800 plus seats in classrooms that are empty.


The Board of Education is doing everything they can to listen. An email address has been created that lets parents communicate with the members of the PARC. A single address will get the message to the two representatives from each school. How those representatives are going to manage what might be a torrent of email was not addressed.

School boards get funding from the province based on the number of students in a school. They get funds for just the seats that have a student’s siting in that seat. The board has to cover the cost of that empty seat. One way of doing that is to eliminate the seat – which is what the board staff have recommended.

The Board also get your tax dollars but they don’t cover everything.

There was a lot of very useful data collected. We will provide that data to you just as soon as we get it – our comment section is where part of the debate can take place.

Many people in the audience felt the questions that were asked were designed to get the response the board wants. Scott Podrebarac did admit that some of the questions were not as clear as they could have been. There will be another round of questions for the next public meeting.


Scott Podrebarac, the Superintendent of Education chosen to chair the PARC. His regular board responsibilities are not within the Burlington community. He lives in the Kitchener Waterloo part of the province and commutes.

This is community building and based on what we have seen from the Director of Education so far – he is genuinely interested in what the community has to say and both wants and needs community input. What the community has to do is be intelligent and responsible as they play their part in this process – and make sure they convey to their trustees what they want.

Realize that every trustee will be voting on this issue – not just the four from Burlington. Have the parents from Central begun to reach out to the trustees from Oakville and Milton – and Halton Hills as well?getting new - yellow

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The federal government survey you are being asked to complete is really part of a high stakes poker game.


Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

December 9th, 2016



When did you stop kicking your dog? That question isn’t on the federal government’s survey on electoral reform. But at more than one point I was sure it was coming, as I struggled with the survey.

This online survey the federal government is asking Canadians to complete has drawn the ire from the opposition benches. Elizabeth May compared it to a dating website and was waiting for the question, ‘do you like pina coladas and taking walks in the rain’.


It is a survey at least worth looking at.

There is some speculation that the result is fixed, skewed to give the government the results it wanted.

I’ve worked a fair bit with surveys, but it was only after I’d completed this one that I appreciated the skill that has gone into developing it. There is a difference between a poll and a value-based survey – and this is the latter. The result the surveyors inferred from my responses was illuminating – everyone should try the survey.

Here is where you go to find the survey.

Mr. Trudeau has a problem of his own making. His minister of democratic institutions, Maryam Monsef, created a special parliamentary committee giving the members a mandate to recommend an alternative to our current first-past-the-post (FPP) election system. That was one of the key commitments in Mr. Trudeau’s winning election campaign.

Maryam Monsef at a town hall meeting at Mount Community Centre on Tuesday, September 6, 2016 for a meeting on electoral reform. (Photograph by Cole Burston)

Maryam Monsef the federal Minister responsible for electoral reform at a town hall meeting. (Photograph by Cole Burston)

Of course, the parties can’t possibly agree on any one system. The minority parties (NDP, Greens and Bloc) will only ever be satisfied with mixed member proportional representation, the formula that would maximize their presence in the House, While the only option which will allow the united Conservative party to form majority government again is the existing FPP.

The Liberals could live with a mixed-member proportional system, and they have also won consistently with our existing FPP system, including just last year. Still they really would like a preferential or ranked ballot, since they are the party of first or second choice for most Canadians. Elected MPs would better represent the preferences of the majority of Canadians than FPP, and the system would be easier to understand and implement than complex proportional representation.

So, given the diversity of opinion on this matter, perhaps the government expected the committee to fail. That would then open the door for it to take the initiative and move forward unilaterally. Except the minister had given majority membership on the committee to the opposition parties, thus letting the fox run the hen house. So the Conservatives took a strategic perspective and played a brilliant hand.

They bluffed. The Tories anted up to the NDP and Greens bid for a proportional system. But then they raised the bid – requiring a mandatory referendum before any change can be made. Having made sure it was all-in, they then put their cards on the table.

The committee had clearly gone beyond their mandate in recommending a referendum. So a furious minister called them on it – giving them a tongue lashing in the House. But she was bidding with a weak hand and ended up apologizing for accusing them of cheating.


And just who is holding what in the manipulating of the way we get to elect our federal leadership.

This is the adult game of poker, not go-fish. Yet, as if in a game of bridge, the Minister had been finessed. Since nobody but the Liberals are putting their money on a preferential, or ranked ballot come next election, she lost her hand. In fact she lost it to the Conservatives because the minority opposition parties (NDP, Greens, Bloc) were accepting fools’ gold instead of cold hard cash. The Tories are banking on the referendum failing. And that would leave our system exactly where it is – FPP.

But even with a successful referendum there would not be enough time to change the system before the next election in 2019. And Conservatives are gambling that the shine will have come off Mr. Trudeau by then. And perhaps with new leadership in the opposition parties they will put a dent in the powerful lead the Liberals have in popular support. That might just result in another minority government in 2019, given we’d be playing under existing house rules – FPP.

NA-TRUDEAU-EDBOARD5 The editorial board met with Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau on April 5, 2013. CARLOS OSORIO/TORONTO STAR

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thinking through his next move.

And were the Tories to form a government again, that will be the last we ever hear of electoral reform. Just look at what they did with other Liberal policies, such as the long gun registry or public funding for political parties.

But the game is not yet over, and now it’s Mr. Trudeau’s turn at the deal.


rivers-on-guitarRay Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington in 1995.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.     Tweet @rayzrivers


Background links:

Monsef Apologizes –   Special Committee –   Referendum –    Critics of the Survey

FPP Commitment –    Electoral Reform Consultations

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No one knows exactly where the ballots in a now contested election result are. Who has them and how many of them are there?

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

December 8th, 2016



Three or four days after Jane McKenna was nominated by the Burlington Provincial Progressive Conservative association that Board met to review what had taken place.

The nominee, Jane McKenna did not attend which has many people wondering what it was that could have kept her away.

Her reported campaign manager Mike Wallace attended – but no Jane McKenna.

The conversation within the political association was rife with suspicion.

Information that has reached the Gazette, most of which is related to the appeal of the nomination, point to significant disarray within both the association and the people at the head office of the political party in Toronto.

The local association didn’t know that the party head office was going to descend on the Burlington nomination meeting and run the show. That is not an unusual step.

The party had apparently decided that they could gain some advantage by putting forward a positive looking team before the new fund raising rules came into place January 1st.

The local association had struck a candidate search committee and the Gazette has learned that there were four people who had expressed an interest in running.

jane-michaelJane Michael has complained that she was interviewed a mere three days before the nomination meeting took place and she didn’t get a membership list until the day before the actual nomination.

When the vote took place at the nomination meeting there appeared to be many irregularities.

The most stunning piece of information is that no one has said how many ballots were cast – and no one knows where those ballots are.

The tradition in Ontario politics is for the loser of the nomination ask that the meeting declare that the selection of the candidate was unanimous and that the ballots be destroyed.

The small bit of video showing a reported former president of the association charging across the room and behaving in a very threatening manner to a senior – who stood his ground.

All the behavior points to a close to dysfunctional organization that had something in the order of $9000 + coming to them from the head office of the party that was forgiven by the local association on the understanding that Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown would appear in Burlington and give a speech.

Those behind the appeal just don’t like the way the nomination process went and they are asking that the results of the first election for a candidate be set aside and that a new nomination meeting be held.

The first step in this process if for a committee to determine if the request for a second nomination meeting has merit. A quick read o the document suggests there is certainly much merit – a close read of the document can only be described as an embarrassment for the local rising association and the political part as well.

The JAne McKenna we saw during the election campaign wore the right Tory blue pin stripe suit and was taught to be earnest and direct with people. The Jane MC Kenna we saw at the Chamber of Commerce breafast had a grip on the numbers that mattered and was capable of being as angry as an opposition MPP is supposed to be.

Jane McKenna is reported to have won the nomination as the candidate for the Progressive Conservative in the next provincial election. That win is now mired in controversy with local Tory’s asking that a second election for the nomination be held.

The party constitution calls for a response to the request for a second vote has to be replied to in seven days – which means on the 15th of December a decision has to be rendered.

It is difficult to see anything that reflects positively for a political association that once held the seat provincially for more than fifty years. Burlington was as Tory Blue as you could get. Now it appears to look embarrassingly red.

The woman who lost to McKenna, Jane Michael is pleased to learn that there are member of the political party in Burlington who just don’t like the way the nomination meeting was handled and they want to see a second nomination meeting take place.

John Robarts - one of the best Premiers the province ever had: knew how to balance a budget.

John Robarts – one of the best Premiers the province ever had would be “appalled ” over what took place in Burlington.

The appeal request was filed by Colin C.G. Pye. Membership Chair of the Burlington Progressive Conservative Riding Association. He is a lawyer by profession and relatively new to local politics but has been involved elsewhere in the province.

Asked what he thought the impact of this messy situation would be on the political party Pye replied that former Ontario Premier, the late  John Robarts would think he said: “He would be appalled’.


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Transit advocates suggest city manager is going to have a tough time finding a new leader for the bus service.

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

December 8th, 2016



City manager James Ridge is now on the lookout for someone to lead the Transit system

Former Director of the Transit service Mike Spencer decided to follow his former boss, Scott Stewart, who left Burlington to become the Deputy CAO in Guelph and then began poaching staff.

The Gazette interviewed two strong transit advocates in Burlington and asked what they thought the city manager should be looking for in the way of a new Director for the transit service.

“Well he wants and needs someone who is a transit champion and who has deep transit experience” said Doug Brown.

Jim Young, who advocated so effectively before city council recently on their need to listen to the people who put them in office, wants to see a transit service that understands the needs of the people in the city and a service that will try new ideas.

Brown was asked if there was anyone currently working at transit that could rise to the position of Director. “There are a couple, but no one is going to take that job until city council decides that it is going to fund transit properly”.  Brown added that no one with municipal transit experience in the province is going to apply for the job in Burlington because this city council is not going to provide the dollars needed to provide a service that can meet the need.

Both Brown and Young are not at all sure than city council actually understands transit. “We had a member of this council casually lop off $2 million from the transit budget and use it to “shave and pace” roads.

Brown points out that there is no clear direction for transit – “where does it fit in” he asks. Then adds that there is no economic analysis on what our transit spending is doing – all Councillor Taylor can do is see the costs.

Brown points to the $10 million budgeted for road widening – take those things out of the budget he suggests.

Brown almost winces when he explains that the federal gas tax money the city gets is poorly distributed.  30% of that money used to go to transit – this city council cut that back to 20%.  That loss shows said Brown.

Young tried to convince the city to make transit free for seniors one day a week – they didn’t buy that idea saying there wasn’t enough data to show that such an idea would make a difference.  This despite the fact that data from Oakville made it very clear that free transit will get people to use the bus service.

The relatively small group of people in Burlington who advocate for better transit have a lot of work to do getting people to understand that transit is a must – there is no need or economic justification for the spending we are doing on roads.

But if you follow the discussion on the “road diet” pilot project on New Street it is clear that people in Burlington don’t want space given to bicycle riders – the car is still the king of the road in this city – and as long as that is the culture this city is not going to attract the transit leader it needs.


The Gazette interviewed two strong transit advocates in Burlington and asked what they thought the city manager should be looking for in the way of a new Director for the transit service.

Doug Brown and Susan Lewis look over a 1982 copy of the city's bus schedule.

Doug Brown and Susan Lewis look over a 1982 copy of the city’s bus schedule.

“Well he wants and needs someone who is a transit champion and who has deep transit experience” said Doug Brown.

Jim Young, who advocated so effectively before city council recently on their need to listen to the people who put them in office, wants to see a transit service that understands the needs of the people in the city and a service that will try new ideas.

Brown was asked if there was anyone currently working at transit that could rise to the position of Director.

“There are a couple, but no one is going to take that job until city council decides that it is going to fund transit properly”. Brown added that no one with municipal transit experience in the province is going to apply for the job in Burlington because this city council is not going to provide the dollars needed to provide a service that can meet the need.

Both Brown and Young are not at all sure than city council actually understands transit. “We had a member of this council casually lop off $2 million from the transit budget and use it to “shave and pace” roads.

Councillor John Taylor, war horse on Escarpment issues got a round of applause before he said a word at the community meeting held to voice once again Burlington's opposition to a highway through any part of the Escarpment.

Councillor John Taylor seems to have trouble really understanding why better transit is necessary suggests advocate Doug Brown.

Brown points out that there is no clear direction for transit – “where does it fit in” he asks. Then adds that there is no economic analysis on what our transit spending is doing – all Councillor Taylor can do is see the costs.

Brown points to the $10 million budgeted for road widening – take those things out of the budget he suggests.
Brown almost winces when he explains that the federal gas tax money the city gets is poorly distributed. 30% of that money used to go to transit – this city council cut that back to 20%. That loss shows said Brown.

Jim Young

Transit advocate Jim Young

Young tried to convince the city to make transit free for seniors one day a week – they didn’t buy that idea saying there wasn’t enough data to show that such an idea would make a difference. This despite the fact that data from Oakville made it very clear that free transit will get people to use the bus service.

The relatively small group of people in Burlington who advocate for better transit have a lot of work to do getting people to understand that transit is a must – there is no need or economic justification for the spending we are doing on roads.

But if you follow the discussion on the “road diet” pilot project on New Street it is clear that people in Burlington don’t want space given to bicycle riders – the car is still the king of the road in this city – and as long as that is the culture this city is not going to attract the transit leader it needs.

Background links:

Young on listening

Young on letting seniors use transit free

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